An answered prayer

This is an old story, but I think it’s important to retell it.

Timmy Yu was just 5 years old when he was involved in a terrible car accident in 1996. Both his parents were killed. His spine was mangled, vertebrae shattered.

At 7 years old in the above picture, Timmy had a lot of faith. In fact, I’m willing to wager he still has it judging by his story. He would pray and pray and pray to God. One cannot help but have pity for a child who wants nothing more than to just run and play with his friends once again.

But there’s good news. Timmy’s prayers were answered.

God’s response came at approximately 10 a.m. Monday, following a particularly fervent Sunday prayer session by little Timmy. Witnesses said God issued His miraculous answer in the form of a towering column of clouds, from which poured forth great beams of Divine light and the music of the Heavenly Hosts. The miraculous event took place in the Children’s Special Care Ward of St. Luke’s Hospital, where Timmy goes three times a week for an excruciating two-hour procedure to drain excess fluid from his damaged spinal column.

Said Angela Schlosser, a day nurse who witnessed the Divine Manifestation: “An incredible, booming voice said to Timmy, ‘I am the Lord thy God, who created the rivers and the mountains, the heavens and the earth, the sun and the moon and the stars. Before Me sits My beloved child, whose faith is that of the mustard seed from which grows mighty and powerful things. My child, Timmy Yu, I say unto you thus: I have heard your prayers, and now I shall answer them. No, you cannot get out of your wheelchair. Not ever.”

and

Asked for comment, God said: “This kind-hearted child’s simple prayer hath moved Me. Never before have I seen such faith. His trusting soul, so full of innocent devotion to Me, hath offered seventy times seven prayers asking, ‘God? Can I please walk again?’ It was indeed right and fitting that I, in My infinite wisdom, should share with him the One True Answer to this long-repeated question he put before Me.”

“My will be done,” God added.

and

Despite all the attention he has received, Timmy remains humble in the face of his newfound notoriety as the only human ever to have a prayer directly answered by God Himself.

“I know that God loves me, because it says so in the Bible,” Timmy said. “So right now, I am just glad that God took the time to answer my prayer. If only I could walk, this would be the greatest day of my life.”

As an atheist, I have no explanation for this. This is a unique event that not only provides powerful evidence for the existence of God, but also really demonstrates the high moral character of the Christian deity.

It warms the heart.

She no longer eyes him like a pisces when he is weak

Ten points if you can guess what the title to this post is referencing before reading on.

I’ve been seeing a disconcerting amount of astrology bullshit on my Facebook feed today. I guess some arbitrary assholes decided to arbitrarily change things up.

Astronomers have restored the original Babylonian zodiac by recalculating the dates that correspond with each sign to accommodate millennia of subtle shifts in the Earth’s axis. Prepare to have your minds blown, all you people with easily blowable minds.

Here is the zodiac as the ancient Babylonians intended it—with the dates corresponding to the times of the year that the sun is actually in each constellation’s “house”—according to the Minnesota Planetarium Society’s Parke Kunkle:

Capricorn: Jan. 20-Feb. 16.
Aquarius: Feb. 16-March 11.
Pisces: March 11-April 18.
Aries: April 18-May 13.
Taurus: May 13-June 21.
Gemini: June 21-July 20.
Cancer: July 20-Aug. 10.
Leo: Aug. 10-Sept. 16.
Virgo: Sept. 16-Oct. 30.
Libra: Oct. 30-Nov. 23.
Scorpio: Nov. 23-29.
Ophiuchus:* Nov. 29-Dec. 17.
Sagittarius: Dec. 17-Jan. 20.

* Discarded by the Babylonians because they wanted 12 signs per year.

This explains why my post of Bill Nye explaining the arbitrariness of astrology has been getting a few more hits than usual.

I find this all so depressing. No, not that my made-up, bullshit sign has changed (actually, it hasn’t). No, what I find depressing is that after all the efforts of Carl Sagan, we still hold a prominent place for astrology in our society. It undermines science. Knock it off.

Besides that, the changing of all this arbitrary bullshit really puts an asterisk on a pretty great song.


(Did you get the 10 points?)

Sudan

Sudan may soon become two nations.

Sudan was troubled from its birth when, in 1956, the British handed over power to the Arab northern elite, despite the country’s vast ethnic and cultural pluralities, setting the parameters for one of the world’s most dysfunctional states. So it is not surprising that the southerners — who have suffered through the two civil wars, from 1956-72 and 1983-2005, which left 2 million people dead and 4 million displaced — are pulling the plug on Africa’s largest nation. The voting in a referendum on southern independence — the key component of a 2005 peace deal — began on Jan. 9 and will last until Jan. 15; the results, not in doubt, should be announced later in the month or in early February.

“Cultural pluralities” is partial code for different religions. Of course, that is only one piece to the puzzle – and not even the biggest piece. But that said, I was reminded of something I said about Nigeria last year:

There is no permanent solution to violence. There are only best solutions. In this case, it is necessary that religious divides be destroyed – and the only way that will happen is either if one group absolutely dominates the landscape or if both groups dissipate. There is nothing like the organizing power of religion and bizarre beliefs…to get a whole pot of hate and violence stirring.

The problems of a poorly developed nation like Sudan aren’t going to go away simply because of a successful separationist movement. But the exacerbation? At least a little of the fuel? It isn’t going to be there. I predict improvements in the two Sudans in the coming years. (I will also point out that if Iraq was diced up according to its religious divisions, a notable bit of the violence there would be quelled – not as much as would be quelled if we just left, but still a notable amount.)